By Taryn Skees for Amplify — June 24, 2022
Kayla Meisner works as a champion of founders and innovators in the Louisville community everyday in her role as Licensing & New Ventures Manager at Kentucky Commercialization Ventures which provides resources to the state’s public universities and colleges to transform ideas into services, products, processes, startups, and investments supported by intellectual property.
Kayla shares with us why she enjoys working with founders, what it’s like having a role in the success of a tech startup, and more!
Q: Share with us a little about your role at KY Commercialization Ventures.
In my current role as Licensing & New Ventures Manager at KCV, I develop cross-disciplinary connections and programs for the betterment of innovators across the Commonwealth including but not limited to corporations, law firms, academic institutions, and community partners. My passion project in my role as been the development and launch of the KCV Innovation Fellowship, an experiential learning program designed to equip the next generation of ecosystem builders with the practical skills necessary to lead the translation of Kentucky’s most innovative solutions to the real-world market.
Q: How did you get involved with OrgVitals? What is the most challenging thing about working with a startup?
Prior to joining KCV, I worked at the University of Louisville’s commercialization office, where I oversaw direct report employees and successfully managed the second largest docket in the office, of over 250 active technologies. Although an engineer by training, I enjoy working with inventors from a myriad of disciplines. My biggest success at UofL was leading the contractual development of a General Counsel approved copyright license template and developed the commercialization strategy for the first licensed technology from the UofL School of Education.
Throughout this process, I became a champion of Dr. Brad Shuck, the faculty creator, and his technology, The Employee Engagement Scale. I negotiated the license agreements with then-Unitonomy (now referred to as OrgVitals), the startup I am currently working with on a part-time basis. Charley Miller, Founder of OrgVitals, and I had worked together closely during his time as an Entrepreneur-In-Residence (EIR) in our office at UofL. When Charley came across Dr. Shuck’s work, he was excited by the opportunity to license the technology as a part of one of OrgVitals’ products. Our harmony while working this project created an amazing partnership opportunity, which lead to Charley hiring me part time to further develop my in-startup experience and promote OrgVitals’ platform products. In one year, with one technology: 1) a Louisville-based startup was formed, 2) the first ever license from the School of Education was executed, 3) three subsequent nonexclusive licenses were signed, and 4) the company is considered one of the most up-and-coming startups in the metropolitan area. It’s a great story of the possibilities created through unconventional technology transfer.
Q: As a champion of startups and founders in the Louisville area, what excites you the most about Louisville’s entrepreneurial community?
For me, it’s the human connectivity and empowerment of people as they seek to better our communities and the world. In the Louisville entrepreneurial community, I’ve thrived on its tight-knit nature – you’re usually only 1 or 2 degrees of separation away from someone. It makes networking and coalition building exciting when I constantly get to work with friends, colleagues, and mentors.
Q: I saw you have a Masters in Engineering from UofL. What inspired you towards that educational path? As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a kid, I really wanted to be a brain surgeon. I was the elementary school kid who watched Trauma, Life in the ER with my mom late at night and thought it was so cool. As I grew up, medical school became more of the plan B and I pursued bioengineering in hopes of one day starting my own med-tech company. During undergrad, my persistance in wanting more entrepreneurial training led me to the technology transfer office. I fell in love with the multifaced aspects of tech transfer and 6+ years later, I am still doing working in the field.
Q: Share a fun fact about yourself that not many people know.
I spent a summer in Delhi, India (2016) learning emergency and third-world medical techniques. I worked in the women and children’s hospital and my final week, I helped deliver a baby! It was a lifechanging experience.